When the world talks RICO, it talks to one man…

Sometimes called the oracle of RICO, he is the author of the page-turner, Grell on RICO….. Shopping for a FoxtrapBully Pulpit Podcast with Bob Garfield (Oct. 15, 2021).

The RICO case against Young Thug, Gunna (born Sergio Kitchens), and their co-defendants is a doozy. For help unpacking it, VICE called up Jeff Grell, an attorney who’s been litigating RICO cases since the 1990s, wrote a textbook about the law, and teaches a class on it at the University of Minnesota Law School. He weighed in on how the case against YSL might play out, and walked us through the intricacies of the controversial law it hinges on. How Young Thug’s RICO Case Could Play Out, According to a RICO Expert, Vice (May 11, 2022).

Jeff Grell, a lawyer who specializes in racketeering cases, said Trump may have waited too long in bringing his racketeering claims. Civil racketeering claims are governed by a four-year statute of limitations, Grell said, but there is usually a big dispute about when that four-year period begins to run. Donald Trump Sues Hillary Clinton Over 2016 Russian Collusion Allegations, Reuters (March 25, 2022).

Jeffrey E. Grell, a Minnesota attorney who specializes in rico cases, disagreed. “Technically, it is not unusual to try a rico case with one member of an enterprise,” he said. “R. Kelly is the Godfather in this case. He’s allegedly operating and managing that enterprise, and he’s very intentionally and very purposefully giving these people the task of essentially wrangling up victims for him. How they do it is up to them, but he’s the person that’s directing all of this.” Why is R. Kelly Standing Trial Alone?The New Yorker (Sept. 22. 2021).

Jeff Grell, a lawyer from Grell Feist, said that in “a normal criminal case, you essentially have to have blood on your hands, pulling the trigger, robbing the money, selling the drugs. Under Rico, that’s not necessary. Rico seeks to impose liability on persons who are knowingly operating and managing the people who are directly committing a crime.” Opioid Executive Admits to “No Morals” Ahead of Prison TermThe Irish Times (Jan. 25, 2020).

But the use of RICO by the DOJ against a corporation is still uncommon. Professor Jeffrey Grell, who teaches a course on RICO at the University of Minnesota Law School, says it is rare for the DOJ to bring RICO claims in any context—especially since, in the case of Huawei, the defendant is directly engaged in the alleged criminal activity. What a RICO Charge Means for HuaweiQuartz (Feb. 18, 2020).

Grell also puts words into action…

VICTORY IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA

Kruse v. Repp, et al.

On June 15, 2021, the Honorable Stephanie M. Rose denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment on RICO claims brought by Mr. Grell’s client in the Southern District of Iowa. A judgment debtor caused a horrific car accident that resulted in permanent and substantial injury to the plaintiff. The plaintiff obtained a seven-figure judgment against the debtor. The plaintiff claims that the defendants (a bank and a law firm) participated in a scheme to fraudulently conceal the assets of the judgment debtor. The Court found that the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the the plaintiff, could prove all of the elements of a substantive RICO claim and plaintiff’s civil standing.  Click here for the full text of the court’s summary judgment decision.  Click here for the full text of an earlier opinion denying the defendants’ motions to dismiss.  

VICTORY IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

– Platinum Prop. Inv. Network. v. Charles Sells, et al.

On June 17, 2020, the Honorable Rodney Smith denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ RICO claims brought by Mr. Grell’s clients in the Southern District of Florida. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants hijacked the plaintiffs’ website traffic through a pattern of service mark infringement, false emails, counterfeit websites, and other acts of unfair competition. In denying the motion to dismiss, the Court found that the plaintiff had pled both an association-in-fact and legal entity enterprise and that the pattern pled by the plaintiff was sufficiently continuous pursuant to the doctrine of fortuitous interruption. Click here for the full text of the opinion denying the motion to dismiss. 

JEFF GRELL ARGUES BEFORE THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

– Bui v. Nguyen, et al.

On October 2, 2107, Jeff Grell appeared before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Mai Bui, a 79 year-old California woman who was defrauded out of nearly $6 million she won in the lottery.  The Ninth Circuit argument focused on whether the defendants’ activities possessed sufficient continuity to constitute a pattern of racketeering.  Click here to watch a video of the argument.  On October 17, 2017, the 9th Circuit issued its opinion, reversing the district court’s dismissal of Ms. Bui’s claim and granting leave for Ms. Bui to file an amended complaint.  Click here to read the opinion.

VICTORY IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Exeed Ind., LLC v. Younis

On November 8, 2016, the Honorable James B. Zagel dismissed RICO claims brought against Mr. Grell’s client in the Northern District of Illinois.  The court dismissed the RICO claims because the plaintiffs did not suffer a “domestic injury” arising out of an alleged scheme that occurred abroad.  Click here for the full text of the opinion dismissing the RICO claims.  On February 10, 2017, the court dismissed the plaintiffs’ remaining state law claims for want of subject matter jurisdiction.